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By Voice of America

Broadcast: Monday, May 01, 2006

It is zero hours thirty Universal Time. I am Jim Tedder in Washington.

Sudanese rebels have refused to sign a peace agreement aimed at ending the violence in the western area of Darfur. A spokesman for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement said changes must be made to the agreement before the group will sign it. Rebel leaders also say they want better terms for joining their forces with the Sudanese army and for disarming private pro-government armed groups. The Sudanese government had said it was ready to accept the agreement. The time limit for action on the Africa Union negotiated proposal ended Sunday. Three years violence in Darfur between government supported forces and Darfur rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than 2,000,000 to leave their homes.

Thousands of activists have called on the international community to end the violence in Sudan's western Darfur area. They gathered near the United States capital in Washington to send their message around the world. The demonstration is one of many being held in cities around the United States. Religious leaders, politicians, and famous athletes attended the protest in Washington to support the victims of suffering in Darfur. Nazi death camp survivor Elie Wiesel spoke at the protest. He called on world leaders to stop the killings.

Afghanistan police have found the body of an Indian worker near where he was kidnapped Friday by the Taliban. His head had been removed. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have strongly condemned the killing in Zabul province. A Taliban spokesman said the communications worker was killed while trying to escape. The Taliban had accused the worker of being a spy for the United States. The group threatened to kill him unless all Indians left Afghanistan.

In other news from Afghanistan, a bomb explosion has killed 3 Afghan soldiers in Helmand province; three others were reported wounded. Army officials blamed Taliban fighters for the attack.

The newly reestablished parliament in Nepal has agreed to hold elections for members of a special group to write a new constitution. Lawmakers did not set a date for the voting. Earlier Girija Prasad Koirala was sworn in as the new prime minister of Nepal. He called on Maoist rebels to reject violence and join talks to help bring peace to the country. Mr. Koirala is the leader of the Nepalese congress. The group is one of seven opposition parties that organized a series of huge protests this month. Demonstrators had demanded that King Gyanendra surrender total rule and return a democratic government to Nepal.

Officials in Indian Kashmir say suspected Muslim separatists have kidnapped nine Hindu civilians and killed four of them. Local officials say the incident happened in the Udhampur area. Police have recovered the bodies of the four dead. They are searching for the five hostages.

You are listening to the news in VOA Special English.

Pakistani officials have released a top assistant to dishonored nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The Pakistani military says Mohammed Farooq was permitted to go home last week. He has spent more than two years in jail during an investigation into reports of secretly passing nuclear information. Farooq was the last man who remained jailed in connection with the reports. He was the director general at a Uranium enrichment laboratory established by Khan near the capital Islamabad. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned nuclear scientist Khan two years ago. The scientist had admitted to passing nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has accused Iran of wasting time in the international dispute over its nuclear program. Miss Rice says Iran should stop all uranium enrichment activity as ordered by the United Nations Security Council. She also urged Iran to answer international concerns about its nuclear program. Earlier Iran said the UN Nuclear Agency could carry out inspections of its uranium enrichment centers if the UN withdraws its threat of restrictions. In Tehran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country will not accept what he called forced UN resolutions. Ali Larijani repeated Iran's plan to improve nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says he is close to reaching agreement to end the violence with seven armed groups. Mr. Talabani said he met with representatives of the groups and United States officials. He said officials are seeking to hold talks with the groups and to include them in the political process. Mr. Talabani did not name the groups. He did say they do not include al-Qaeda in Iraq or supporters of Saddam Hussein.

Also in Iraq, British officials say a bomb explosion killed 3 people south of Baghdad; two others were wounded in the attack against a group of private security vehicles. The officials say they cannot confirm reports that the dead include British citizens.

Former American Secretary of State Colin Powell says he told President Bush to increase the number of troops planned for deployment in Iraq. Mr. Powell says he suggested the increase before the United States led invasion of Iraq. The former official says he gave the same advice to war planners General Tommy Franks and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says President Bush considered the advice of aids and military commanders before the invasion plan was approved. She said the join chiefs of staff guarantee Mr. Bush that there were enough troops to carry out the invasion.

Here again is the major news. Sudanese rebels have refused to sign a peace agreement aimed at ending the violence in the western area of Darfur. Afghan police have found the body of an Indian worker near the place he was kidnapped by the Taliban. And the parliament in Nepal has agreed to hold elections for members of a special group to write a new constitution. And that's the news in VOA Special English from Washington, Jim Tedder reporting.